12 Celebrities Who Disappeared From Hollywood

Some of our favorite celebs have slipped out of the limelight while the getting’s been good, and we’ve been sad to see them go. Many have gone on to other careers, while some have simply shifted the focus of their lives. This list countdowns the top 12 celebs who disappeared from the limelight of Hollywood and in some cases, into obscurity.

12. Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett got so fed up with stardom while in his 20s, he packed it up and moved back to Minnesota despite being offered leading roles in features like Spider-Man and Superman. “I was on the cover of every magazine. I couldn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was alone.” These days Hartnett can be found in some indie films or behind the camera, testing out a new passion.

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11. Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple remains a household name, but the child star couldn’t maintain her stardom into her adulthood. She was the top box-office draw in Hollywood for three years in a row from 1935-1938, but by 1960, she was filming for pilots that were never even launched. Luckily, Temple entered politics in 1969 and became a diplomat, serving as United States Ambassador to Ghana and later to Czechoslovakia, and as Chief of Protocol of the United States.

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10. Renee Zellweger

Renee has come out of hiding recently to film Bridget Jones’ Baby, set to be released in 2016, but for the past five years, she’s been MIA. She stated that she took time off to focus on her personal life, and who could blame her? In 2005 she married singer Kenny Chesney, but the marriage was annulled four months later. Zellweger cited “fraud” as the reason for the annulment, which doesn’t sound too romantic.

(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

9. Mischa Barton

Mischa Barton played the unforgettable character of Marissa Cooper on the hit teen series The O.C. She was even Entertainment Weekly’s “It Girl 2003,” but then gradually she disappeared from the Hollywood radar. When asked about returning to television, Barton said, “It’s not that I dislike doing television at all. It would be interesting having more creative control over where the storylines go or the characters. But for the right thing, of course.”

Gregorio T. Binuya/Everett Collection

8. Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson has been a favorite actor of several generations, but recently he has seemed to drop off the face of the planet. His absence from the limelight sparked many tabloid rumors about the failing health of the man who holds the title as the most nominated male actor in the Academy’s history. Nicholson put an end to those rumors stating, “I’m not going to work until the day I die, that’s not why I started this. I mean, I’m not driven. I was driven—but I’m not, I don’t have to be out there anymore…I had the most chilling thought that maybe people in their twenties and thirties don’t actually want to be moved anymore. They may want just to see more bombs, more explosions, because that is what they have grown up with. And I’ll never do that type of movie.” Touché.

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7. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Jonathan Taylor Thomas…JTT! Why’d you have to retire? This child star basically retired from acting when the Home Improvement series ended. He decided to focus on his studies, and attended Harvard for philosophy and history. In 2010 he graduated from the Columbia University School of General Studies. I guess that’s cool…but not as cool as he’s doing the voice of Simba in The Lion King!

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6. Kevin Jonas

I guess this Jonas Brother had a bit too much of the limelight, and after the band split, he got married to wife Danielle Deleasa, and settled down, working as a contractor. He made a cameo appearance on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, leading the construction of Housewife Kathy Wakile’s home.


5. Freddie Prinze Jr.

This teen heartthrob of the early 2000s, has virtually disappeared from the world of acting and celebrity. Freddie has been involved with WWE and did appear on the hit series 24. It was that experience on the show that may have driven him from the business. Prinze said, “I did ‘24,’ it was terrible. I hated every moment of it. Kiefer was the most unprofessional dude in the world. That’s not me talking trash, I’d say it to his face. I think everyone that’s worked with him has said that.” Prinze has since been focused on raising his 2 children with wife Sarah Michelle Gellar.


4. Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle was widely known for his sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show, which inspired Esquire to hail him “the comic genius of America.” The show lasted three seasons before Chappelle packed up and peaced out to South Africa, which sparked rumors of a mental breakdown. In a 2014 interview with David Letterman, Chappelle explained his drastic move: “There’s not too many good hiding places left in America.” The comedian was asked if he regretted walking away from the deal with Comedy Central, reported to be worth $50 million. “It’s very hard to go through something like this because no one’s really done it before, so there’s not too many people that don’t think I’m crazy.” We think you’re crazy, and we want you back! I don’t think it’s the last we’ve heard from Mr. Dave Chappelle.


3. Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman is no stranger to success. He had an acting career that spanned almost 50 years that earned him five Academy Award nominations and two wins, one for best actor in The French Connection and the other for best supporting actor in Unforgiven. He has managed to continue to build his list of credentials after retiring from acting in 2004. Together with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan, Hackman has written three historical fiction novels, Wake of the Perdido Star, Justice for None, and Escape from Andersonville. He also released his own solo novels Payback at Morning Peak and Pursuit.

Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com

2. Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan’s illustrious, but briefly-lived affair with Russell Crowe may have been a career ending move for this Hollywood darling. She was the face of many female leads in classic ’90s romantic comedies, but her affair and divorce from Denise Quaid gave Ryan a need to remove herself from the spotlight. Despite being offered many roles, Ryan has remained out of the public eye and has focused on being a mom in NYC.

Manuel Romano/NurPhoto / Rex Features

1. Sean Connery

This Bond man turned down the role of playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and opted instead to star in the 2003 movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The film would be his last and he announced his retirement from acting. He left behind a hefty legacy though. He starred in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983 and won the Academy Award for Best Support Actor for his role in The Untouchables.

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Jessica Bowden